Revised guidance on Personal Education Plans for Children Looked After published

Date published: 17 February 2023

Revised guidance on Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for Children Looked After at primary school level has been published today.

The launch of this guidance on Care Day recognises the vital role that education plays in delivering positive outcomes for children looked after and young people.

The introduction of the revised guidance is an important step towards the fulfilment of a number of commitments within the joint Department of Education and Department of Health Strategy ‘A Life Deserved: Caring for Children and Young People in Northern Ireland’.

The guidance and associated training are being delivered by the Education Authority to primary age educational settings which support children looked after and to social workers within Health and Social Care Trust children’s teams who have corporate parenting responsibilities for the young people.

The revised PEP will be structured around five themes – care arrangements, educational arrangements, emotional health and wellbeing, learn and achieve, and play and leisure.

The core network around the child, including the school, field social worker, parent/carer, and a range of psychologist and education support services, will jointly complete the PEP with the voice of the child integrated into all aspects of this new process.

Speaking following the launch, Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Mark Browne, said: “The Personal Education Plan, updated guidance and support, is a valuable process which will help deliver positive outcomes for children looked after.

“This revised process forms part of the Department of Education’s commitment to working together with health colleagues and partners in delivering on the ‘A Life Deserved’ strategy.

“We are determined to create the conditions that provide education that nurtures, acts in the best interests, and secures the best possible outcomes for children looked after and helps them to achieve their full potential.”

Commenting on the launch of the revised guidance, Una Turbitt, Interim Director Children and Young People Services, from the Education Authority, said: “The Education Authority is committed to working in partnership with children looked after, their families, professional networks and other agencies to ensure the effective delivery of ‘A Life Deserved’ strategy.

“The revised personal education plan, developed by the EA Primary Children Looked After Advisory Service, is the delivery vehicle to improved educational outcomes with Primary Children Looked After central to the process through active participation. The new revised profiles and personal education plans are trauma and attachment informed and incorporate actions and targets codesigned with care experienced children and young people that will enable children who are looked after to feel secure in school and supported to achieve their potential.

“The Education Authority’s Primary Children Looked After Advisory Service will lead on the delivery of training and a toolkit for education and social care staff to support the implementation of the revised guidance.”

Department of Health Permanent Secretary, Peter May, said: “Effective planning based on the individual needs of each child is central to ensuring that children in care receive the support they need when they need it. The new guidance recognises the importance of listening to children and the people who know them best, and working in partnership to collectively agree and implement a personal education plan.

“This approach is in keeping with the Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 which places Personal Education Plans on a statutory basis and requires Health and Social Care Trusts to promote achievement, learning and development of children in care as well as prevent disruption to their education or training. It also aligns with the core principles of work being led by the Department of Health to implement a Framework for Integrated Therapeutic Care for all children who are looked after.

"The new guidance is a great example of what can be achieved when Departments and their partners work together, and I look forward to continued positive engagement between health, social care and education to improve outcomes for care experienced children and young people.”

Notes to editors: 

The revised guidance on Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for Children Looked After can be accessed on the Department of Education website.

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